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I am a former bookseller who was there for twelve years. I loved the job, but left because I was being forced out. I got a not at standards evaluation, followed by two IPs. The accusations came out of nowhere. I had to leave or else I would have been terminated due to poor job performance. SM manufactured things, ASM and MM went along. SM had favorites who could do anything.

I would like to hear from others with similar stories and also from curremt booksellers who are facing the same treatment.


( 22 comments — Leave a comment )
Jan. 4th, 2016 06:43 pm (UTC)
Mine wasn't as extreme and dire, but there was indeed a weird 180.

I'd been a keyed bookfloor merchandise manager for several years and got very good reviews. My manager was strong with development and I was starting to take over some ASM stuff (hiring and firing, workload planning and scheduling, and more). I was enjoying it very much. I'm also strong at developing people and the freedom and control at that level was very fulfilling and stimulating. I liked just about everything about the job except the insane schedule. I'd received strong hints/communications that was "on deck" talent map wise, etc.

Then I went on maternity leave. When I came back, it sounded like my role was to pretty much revert back to floor lead type duties. Not only that, but they were encouraging starting from the ground up as far as training and making sure holes/gaps weren't missed.

I'm...not sure it was personal? This was about a year after the floor lead positions were eliminated (did that end up being a permanent thing?) so I guess they needed someone to do that stuff even though we had ones who were being grandfathered...? But while I was okay doing that stuff as part of my dues working my way up it sounded dull and not where I wanted to go career-wise when it came to the future. I
actually really love working directly with the people! I was really enjoying constructing projects, goals, teams, and events. Going back to fighting with a kroy machine sounded maddening (Okay, I know there is a lot more to it than that and I know many people love working in the stacks/on organization but I preferred being out there).

But I do wonder if there was an element of "Well, she ditched us once to have a baby, and even though she's come back and worked hard for a good long stretch of time and has a good work ethic maybe she'll do it again so time to de-prioritize her". Not, like, lawsuit-level discrimination, but I do wonder if there was some of that at play, combined with some other politics.

So I jumped ship. Again, the schedule bullshit clinched it. There seemed to be no effort to work on the super early, super late, split shifts, all-weekend/every-weekends, and more. Some of my friends in retail management at other places work at places that sound worse in some ways but they will have a more regular schedule (only mornings or only nights) or have weekends on rotation. Not at B&N, at least not the three districts I'd worked in over the years. All over the place! The fact I was more luxuriously well-rested on maternity leave with a newborn than I'd been in the previous decade was indeed a wake up call!)

I did dislike it in the sense I "proved them right" in that moms are not reliable as long term advancement prospects, from their point of view. But their loss! I'm now back in management, higher up (a vice president), AND I get to work outside, which I love, AND I have a flexible schedule. Score! But there are things I miss about it sometimes...
Jan. 4th, 2016 08:00 pm (UTC)
Spent five years with B&N. Total call-out-sick days, seven. Picked up a lot of shifts, was excellent in Kids and in Music/Movies as well as at Info. Customers asked specifically for me, because if it was in the store, I could find it.

One Saturday, an actual Saturday off, I got sick--fever of 102, nausea, sore throat and no voice. Called out on Sunday, manager on duty told me to get better soon.

Went back to work on Monday, still not at my best and hoarse. Assistant manager called me into the office, told me how very very suspicious it is that I called out on a Sunday after a Saturday off. She can only assume that I was conspiring to get a full weekend off, and I will be written up for this sin.

I demonstrated (by coughing wetly and speaking hoarsely) that I was in fact sick, and still was a bit symptomatic.

She demanded to see a doctor's note.

I pointed out that I was sick on a Sunday, a day when doctors' offices are not generally open, and thus did not have one. I also pointed out that I very rarely called out, that surely my 4.5 years' work history would reflect that I was not the sort to fake sick, and that Sunday's manager hadn't indicated that there was any issue with my calling out.

Not only do I have no proof (please ignore the phlegm I'm hacking into my hands) that I was sick, now I'm being disrespectful! She wrote me up then and there, watched while I wrote my rebuttal and signed the damn thing, made sure I knew that this would be looked upon poorly at my next review in three months, and threw in that this little interview would count as my 15-minute break, so I'd better get back out to the Info Desk.

In three months, when that same manager informed me magnanimously that the store would overlook my "history of calling out" and keep me on for another year with no raise and an assurance that she personally would be keeping an eye on my schedule and any suspicious absences, I took a small amount of mean pleasure in handing her my two-weeks-notice then and there.
Jan. 18th, 2016 05:01 pm (UTC)
I also rarely took sick days (lost many of them by not using within the year). One day (may have been a Saturday) I had a very bad cold/sore throat so I called early to say I was sick. I was told that two other people had called off before me so I "had to" come in. I did, and felt horrible all day. Should have stayed home & let them write me up. Reviews were BS anyway, since raises only go to a set number of employees and are (unofficially) phased out for longer-term employees, to encourage lower-paid staff to stay longer.
Jan. 6th, 2016 08:16 pm (UTC)
same exact situation is happening to my friend. he is a good worker but the store manager has a personal opinion about him that is apparently negative and it is passed down through the ranks. he gets written up for ridiculous things and they are constantly on his back. currently trying to find a place to put in a complaint.
Feb. 5th, 2016 09:17 am (UTC)
RE: yep
They have a "We Listen" hotline. Call the news. Nyt did a story on Starbucks. They should do one on Barnes & Noble.
Jan. 18th, 2016 04:53 pm (UTC)
I, too, was forced out, in 2013. The economy was poor, we got a new manager, and she obviously was trimming staff. I was told I would have to take a head cashier position (which would take away my freedom to work throughout the store) and work more evening & weekend shifts, including holidays, all for the same pay. I chose to leave. I understand that I was making too much ($12/hr!) to not be in a management position (department lead positions had been eliminated and a promotion would require me to work at a different location), but I resent the way I was treated just because I would not sacrifice my family life for the store. I was not allowed to tell my co-workers I was leaving, there was no farewell, and when I finally went back into the store two years later, the manager on duty (a former "friend") ignored me. While initially working at a book store was fun, I do not miss shlepping stacks of books, dealing with rude customers, "upselling" with management always pushing for more, or working an inconsistent schedule that varies from early mornings to late evenings 7 days/week. Leaving worked to my advantage, because I now have a weekday-only job I enjoy that pays more, is less physically demanding, and where I am respected. Unfortunately, the way my tenure at B&N ended has left a lasting bitterness, and I would not recommend B&N to anyone for anything.
Jan. 21st, 2016 02:50 pm (UTC)
forced out
I was with B&N for 22 years until 2010 got good reviews was top seller in membership cards got along good with everyone for years. 2010 Store Manager who had been there for 9 years was forced out they brought in this guy and his "team" ,suddenly bad reviews complaints that I took too much vacation time { I was up to 4 wks at that time} write ups left and right. you're not selling enough cards which finally ended a year ago, I was not allowed to say goodbye to anyone they pulled everyone off the floor as I walked out to my car. I have not had an easy time finding a new job I do some free lance genealogical and historical research for people I know however I'm glad I'm out of it the last couple years were bad
Jan. 27th, 2016 03:18 pm (UTC)
This is very common for long term employees that work for Barnes & Noble. The more money you make the more you will have a target on your back. The Dm's & corporate will bring in new management to shake things up to get rid of the older employees. Retail is strapped for money so you really can't win working in retail. View retail as short term work until you can find something better. Try to get a job in a non retail company that makes money and you will see how much better you will be treated.
Jan. 27th, 2016 03:49 pm (UTC)
Being forced out isis all by design.
The management does all of this on purpose to save money. If you work here just know that eventually it will happen to you.
Feb. 2nd, 2016 08:42 pm (UTC)
Retail is a temp job.
Stop worrying about this crazy company. Be happy!!!!!
Feb. 3rd, 2016 01:08 am (UTC)
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Feb. 3rd, 2016 05:59 am (UTC)
It's happening to all ft employees. After 14 years, I was forced out. I smile everytime I see bn stock price. Amazon is opening 400+ bookstores!!!
Feb. 3rd, 2016 03:31 pm (UTC)
Get out of B&N before they kick you out.
Staying on at Barnes & Noble for the discount is stupid. Buying your books online is so much cheaper even with the employee discount.

Buy books here:

Abe books
Ebay has really cheap books
Thrift stores & garage sales

When you get a better paying job outside of retail you can afford more books and avoid the nasty management.

Do it today!
Feb. 16th, 2016 11:55 pm (UTC)
I'm not being forced out, at least not to my knowledge, but I see what you and others have said about your stores. I do think the SM favors the new, younger staff and does not appreciate those who are older and have worked there for a longer time. She most definitely has favorites, and I'm sure many of those people were friends and family before working at the store. Nepotism is definitely alive and well at BN.
Mar. 2nd, 2016 01:27 am (UTC)
Well, after 17 years, I got let go primarily because my membership numbers weren't up to standards. Who wants to pay for membership on this sinking ship? I'll be starting a job at Wal-Mart where I will be paid more on my first day than I was at B&N after 17 years. Think about that. God damn Wal-Mart pays more than B&N.
Mar. 2nd, 2016 06:03 pm (UTC)
forced out
The last year I was there the store manager told me that she did favor part time employees over full time which is what I was
Apr. 24th, 2016 02:17 am (UTC)
Forced out
I worked for the company for 20 years; opened a new store as receiving manager, worked up to assistant manager, was recruited to help out a troubled store and helped rebuild it. Then, I got mixed reviews and more and more stressed out. Suddenly, nothing I did was good enough. My attitude started to reflect things, as I became more and more stressed out and began to hate the job. There were outside forces, as well. My partner is physically and psychologically disabled (back issues, coupled with clinical depression). I was stressed at work and stressed at home. I lost my father, she lost her mother, and I lost a close friend to cancer. Nook and membership were all that mattered. It wasn't the same company anymore. It kind of felt like the heart went out of it when Steve Riggio left, with his family issues and death of his daughter. They seemed more and more desperate. My dm seemed to look at my work differently than my previous dm, before I moved. He had gotten me a raise to come to the new store, to meet the higher cost of living, even though it was the same level of job. I know I bear some responsibility for elements in my reviews, as stress did affect me; but, I also felt I was being judged differently from other managers. I was given a needs improvement review, then, the next thing I know, I come back from vacation and am told I'm being given a final warning, with 30 days to improve or I'm out. I had a suspicion that nothing was going to satisfy my dm. I said as much to my store manager, who was trying to support me. He actually tried to put my case to the dm, with ideas we addressed, to see her response. Her reply was pretty much that what we thought as great improvement would be seen as a minor change. It didn't matter, I decided I was going to resign, provided I would be given the same 30 days to look for a new job. It was agreed.

Since that time, I got a new retail management job, at a salary of over $50K and hated every minute of it. I was so stressed out I quit. I was out of work for 3 months and had to take a job with an inventory company just to pay the rent, and they exploited my need. I went through two other retail jobs, before being approached to take a job I had been previously turned down for, at a troubled retail store. I took it, because they met my salary demand, even though my instinct was to view it with suspicion. It's been hell. The employees don't care and put forth no effort. There is no motivating them. The district management is horrible to deal with and the store manager fears being fired with each conversation. I am stressed to the max and hate every moment I am in the store.

For all of the bad, at the end, B&N was a great place to work, for many years, even when I had a bad manager. It actually had a good support structure and put resources into training and developing people. Most retail outlets don't. It paid better than a lot, too. The managers, in my experience, were more professional and genuinely cared about their staff. DMs actually tried to help the stores, not look for scapegoats (well, for the longest time, anyway). Stores felt more like families and teams, not just co-workers.

I'm nearly 50 and seem to be pigeonholed in retail. Attempts to find work outside haven't gone anywhere. I'm either considered overqualified, not successful enough in past job, or they can't see how I have similar experience in the same duties. It's frustrating and depressing. Some days, it's hard to find a reason to just get up and go to work, or even face life. However, I get up and try again. It's all you can do. The alternative is death.

In the end, leaving B&N was probably a good thing, as I had grown to hate it and wasn't doing my best. How much life they still have in them is still up in the air. They are survivors and so am I. I just need to find something that will make me happy, because I certainly haven't found anything that will make me rich. Mostly, I look back at my education and wished I had pursued something that I loved, rather than what I thought I was supposed to do, or had done the same at any other point in my life. I loved books and that made it a dream job for most of my time there. Now, I don't know....
Jun. 29th, 2016 11:16 pm (UTC)
RE: Forced out
Learn from the past but don't live there.

Consider going back to school.

Avoid retail at all cost.

Never stress over a stupid job.

Know that companies that don't have the money will always be looking for ways to get rid of you. Most of the time it has nothing to do with you or how well you are doing but more about cutting cost.

Jobs come and go so don't stress over it. Education last forever!
Jul. 22nd, 2016 01:56 am (UTC)
Re: Forced out
I just read your post. I sincerely hope that life is better for you now. The suggestions that follow your post are good ones. Life is too short to stress over a job. I would rather have much less and be content than to be wealthy and miserable. I know how to live on much less. I did it when I was young and found those years some of the happiest in my life. Again, I wish you well....
Jul. 22nd, 2016 01:49 am (UTC)
Store Managers and the future of BN
We have a store manager that seems to have something to prove. She might have many years experience, but she is not as smart as she thinks she is - rather insecure, I'd say, and seems to favor the younger employees whom she can bluff. The ones who really work and hold the store together are the Assistant and Merchandise Managers. Too many young employees are allowed to hang out around and chat with the SM while others work their butts off. She can impress them more, I guess. Sadly, I think BN's future is dim. Maybe this is why such lax behavior is tolerated.

Jul. 30th, 2016 10:03 pm (UTC)
Yes, the same thing happened to me!
yBack in 2004, the Manager who had promoted me was transferred, and a new manager and assistant manager came in. The new assistant manager was nasty to me, made impossible expectations of me, and threw blame at me a lot. Then he called me on the carpet about 100-odd computer book returns he said I'd missed. I was so puzzled. When I heard the PDT beep, I returned the book. I was so sure there had to be extenuating circumstances, but I did not get the benefit of the doubt from him at all. He was probably just lying. I kept thinking it would get better if I worked harder, but it only got worse. This manager was always scolding me like I was a bad little boy. Well, in 2006 the store closed, and I was told that I wasn't capable of working at the other stores, and that I should take severance pay.Well, a bell went off in my head-I WAS BEING SET UP THE WHOLE TIME!
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